A mining company run by Chinese investors contracted to remove sand along the silted Angwa River in Makonde district, Mashonaland West Province, has been ordered to cease operations and remove its heavy machinery from the site after blocking the flow of water to facilitate alluvial gold mining.
This is allegedly in contravention of a licence issued by the Environmental Management Agency and disregard for standing provisions of the Environmental Management Act.
The Act and the Agency classify alluvial gold mining and other activities as prescribed projects needing Environmental Impact Assessment approval.
The assessment looks at the impact mining activities would have on the environment and states remedial measures to be taken to limit the negative outcomes.
Angel Hills Mining Company was contracted to de-silt Angwa River, which is choking from indiscriminate alluvial gold panning.
However, the company allegedly went on to erect a barrier to stop the flow of water and brought on-site a front-end loader, gems table and other heavy machinery for full-scale mining.
However, the activities were stopped after environmental inspectors saw what was happening and ordered Angel Hills to cease operations until they rehabilitated the area.
EMA also ordered dismantling of the dam to allow water to flow downstream. Hundreds of families rely on the water from the river which flows through parts of Mashonaland Central into the Zambezi River.
An order issued on October 11, 2013 states that Angel Hills should remove all equipment from the site by October 12, 2013.
“On or before 11/10/13 you will cease all mining and construction operations on the site of Angel Hill Mining until you have acquired an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) Licence. That on or before 11/10/13 you shall remove all the barriers constructed along Angwa River and backfill all excavated pits and trenches. Excavated silt should be levelled outside the river bank,” reads part of the order.
The order also states that the equipment – including generators, a tipper truck (registration number ADA7750), excavator, gems table and washing plant – should be removed from the site until conditions for such activities are met.
An earlier order had been issued to stop operations on January 29 but the company allegedly ignored it. EMA Mashonaland West official Mr Leon Mutungamiri said: “The state of the river is a worrying site for the impact is not only felt by EMA which is an environmental watchdog but even villagers from surrounding areas who now have to rely on shallow wells along the exposed riverbed for drinking and washing.”